Saturday, May 1, 2010

**Update On Gulf Oil Spill**

It seems that with each passing moment the news grows more grim coming from the Gulf of Mexico.

WASHINGTON—The Gulf of Mexico oil spill could be leaking at a rate of 25,000 barrels a day, five times the government's current estimate, industry experts say.
Basing their calculations on government data and standard industry measurement tools, the experts said the Gulf spill may already rival the historic 1969 Santa Barbara, Calif., and 1989 Exxon Valdez disasters.
Ian MacDonald, professor of oceanography at Florida State University who specializes in tracking ocean oil seeps from satellite imagery, said there may already be more than 9 million gallons of oil floating in the Gulf now, based on his estimate of a 25,000 barrel-a-day leak rate. That's compared to 12 million gallons spilled in the Valdez accident.
Interior Department officials said it may take 90 days to cap the leaking well. If the 25,000 barrels a day is accurate and it leaks for 90 days, that's 2.25 million barrels or 94.5 million gallons.
Experts: Oil May Be Leaking at Rate of 25,000 Barrels a Day in Gulf

So the 5,000 gallon daily is a low ball estimate of what is flowing into the Gulf at this point?  What other news are we going to find out?

BP plan deemed major spill from Gulf well unlikely

The worst U.S. oil spill in decades reached into precious shoreline habitat along the Gulf Coastas documents emerged showing British Petroleum downplayed the possibility of a catastrophic accident at the offshore rig that exploded.
BP suggested in a 2009 exploration plan and environmental impact analysis for the well that an accident leading to a giant crude oil spill— and serious damage to beaches, fish and mammals — was unlikely, or virtually impossible.
The plan for the Deepwater Horizon well, filed with the federal Minerals Management Service, said repeatedly that it was "unlikely that an accidental surface or subsurface oil spill would occur from the proposed activities."
The company conceded a spill would impact beaches, wildlife refuges and wilderness areas, but argued that "due to the distance to shore (48 miles) and the response capabilities that would be implemented, no significant adverse impacts are expected."
Robert Wiygul, an Ocean Springs, Miss.-based environmental lawyer and board member for the Gulf Restoration Network, said he doesn't see anything in the document suggesting BP addressed the kind of technology needed to control a spill at that depth of water.
Documents Show BP Didn't Plan for Major Spill

To give you an idea on just what is going on underneath the water:

Just when you thought that it could not get worse, it turns out not only could it get worse but there is a good chance it will.  Ben Raines from the Hunstville Press Register has written a startling piece:

A confidential government report on the unfolding spill disaster in the Gulf makes clear the Coast Guard now fears the well could become an unchecked gusher shooting millions of gallons of oil per day into the Gulf.

"The following is not public," reads the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Emergency Response document dated April 28. "Two additional release points were found today in the tangled riser. If the riser pipe deteriorates further, the flow could become unchecked resulting in a release volume an order of magnitude higher than previously thought."

Asked Friday to comment on the document, NOAA spokesman Scott Smullen said that the additional leaks described were reported to the public late Wednesday night. Regarding the possibility of the spill becoming an order of magnitude larger, Smullen said, "I'm letting the document you have speak for itself."

In scientific circles, an order of magnitude means something is 10 times larger. In this case, an order of magnitude higher would mean the volume of oil coming from the well could be 10 times higher than the 5,000 barrels a day coming out now. That would mean 50,000 barrels a day, or 2.1 million gallons a day. It appears the new leaks mentioned in the Wednesday release are the leaks reported to the public late Wednesday night.   

"There is no official change in the volume released but the USCG is no longer stating that the release rate is 1,000 barrels a day," continues the document, referred to as report No. 12. "Instead they are saying that they are preparing for a worst-case release and bringing all assets to bear."

The emergency document also states that the spill has grown in size so quickly that only 1 to 2 percent of it has been sprayed with dispersants.

The Press-Register obtained the emergency report from a government official. The White House, NOAA, the Coast Guard and BP Plc did not immediately return calls for comment made early this morning.

Leaked report: Government fears Deepwater Horizon well could become unchecked gusher

So was this unexpected like we've been lead to believe it was?  Yeah, not so much if you take into account that BP has had a lot of problems reports Publica.

BP Had Other Problems in Years Leading to Gulf Spill

BP, the global oil giant responsible for the fast-spreading spill in the Gulf of Mexico that will soon make landfall, is no stranger to major accidents.
In fact, the company has found itself at the center of several of the nation's worst oil and gas–related disasters in the last five years.
In March 2005, a massive explosion ripped through a tower at BP's refinery in Texas City, Texas, killing 15 workers and injuring 170 others. Investigators later determined that the company had ignored its own protocols on operating the tower, which was filled with gasoline, and that a warning system had been disabled.
The company pleaded guilty to federal felony charges and was fined more than $50 million by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Almost a year after the refinery explosion, technicians discovered that some 4,800 barrels of oil had spread into the Alaskan snow through a tiny hole in the company's pipeline in Prudhoe Bay. BP had been warned to check the pipeline in 2002, but hadn't, according to a report in Fortune. When it did inspect it, four years later, it found that a six-mile length of pipeline was corroded. The company temporarily shut down its operations in Prudhoe Bay, causing one of the largest disruptions in U.S. oil supply in recent history.
BP faced $12 million in fines for a misdemeanor violation of the federal Water Pollution Control Act. A congressional committee determined that BP had ignored opportunities to prevent the spill and that "draconian" cost-saving measures had led to shortcuts in its operation.
Other problems followed. There were more spills in Alaska. And BP was charged with manipulating the market price of propane. In that case, it settled with the U.S. Department of Justice and agreed to pay more than $300 million in fines.
At each step along the way, the company's executives were contrite.
"This was a preventable incident. ... It should be seen as a process failure, a cultural failure and a management failure," John Mogford, then BP's senior group vice president for safety and operations, said in an April 2006 speech about the lessons learned in Texas City. "It's not an easy story to tell. BP doesn't come out of it well."
In a 2006 interview with this reporter after the Prudhoe Bay spill,published in Fortune, BP's chief executive of American operations, Robert Malone, said, "There is no doubt in my mind, what happened may not have broken the law, but it broke our values."
Malone insisted at the time that there was no pattern of mismanagement that increased environmental risk.
"I cannot draw a systemic problem in BP America," he said. "What I've seen is refineries and facilities and plants that are operating to the highest level of safety and integrity standards."
Nonetheless, Malone, who spent three decades at BP and was promoted to the CEO of BP America shortly after the Texas refinery blast, promised to increase scrutiny over BP's operations and invest in environmental and safety measures.
He told Congress that it was imperative BP management learn from its mistakes.
"The public's faith has been tested recently," he said. "We have fallen short of the high standards we hold for ourselves and the expectations that others have for us."
Time will tell whether the accident that killed 11 workers and sent the Transocean Deepwater Horizon drilling rig -- a $500 million platform as wide as a football field -- floating to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico was simply an accident or something else.
Malone, who retired last year, declined to comment for this article. A spokesman for BP was not available for comment.
BP Had Problems Leading Up To Gulf Spill

Of course this couldn't have happened at a worse time for this area.

Another thing to remember in all of isn't just the environment that is going to be effected by this spill, not just the wildlife and the sea animals, but also our people.  There are those who are still recovering from Hurricane Katrina, who depend on the ability to fish, shrimp live, pay bills and to attempt to recover from past devastations.  This is going to cost people everything they have.  Some generational businesses will be going under...permanently.   How much damage can people survive and continue to have hope?  How many times can a person lose it all and still pick themselves back up?  

I know that there will be more to report, and I dread it deeply because I know it is only going to get worse. The photos we will see are going to be devastating. The death toll on our wildlife will be more than we want to know about. The damage to our environment will be more destructive than we want to think about. People will lose everything and it will be heartbreaking to hear about.

We must bear witness to this. We must remind ourselves and our family, our friends, our neighbors and our country that this is unacceptable.


  1. crystalwolf aka caligrlMay 2, 2010 at 3:50 PM

    After all this "mistakes" why is this company still in business?
    Bushie & Co looked the other way on environmental "rules" and now, the people on this drilling installation, the wildlife and people of Louisiana are going to pay the price....
    THIS IS CRIMINAL! BP should be immediately shut down. Everywhere.
    Its obvious they have skirted the rules and safety measures that were put in place to keep disasters like this from happening.
    All the wildlife on land and sea will die or be seriously impacted. This is CRIMINAL!!!!

  2. Forever AnonymousMay 3, 2010 at 6:53 PM

    Great post, again. Thank you!

  3. What frightens me the most is that they have absolutely no idea exactly how much oil is actually spilling out into the gulf.

    It seems that they continually low-ball the estimates for reasons unbeknownst to anyone except to protect themselves.

    In my opinion, we are in for some serious damage both ecologically and economically from this that will last for a very long time.

    Even if they get the well shut down, the damage is done with the amount of oil spilled already. Fishing and shrimping have been banned, oyster beds will not be okay for perhaps decades, people are cancelling vacation plans left and right (and understandably so) which is going to effect in a ripple pattern so many people and businesses. It isn't just the fish and shrimp industry that will suffer the effects. Restaurants, hotels, tourist shops, all of that and more will feel the effects of this.

    Our environment will not recover for a long time, birds, fish, shrimp, oysters/mussels, whales, dolphins, jellyfish, squid, turtles, will take generations to recover if they do at all.